Though concerns have been raised regarding the advent of a new form of ‘super malaria’ that is resistant and very difficult to treat, there has also been some positive news recently regarding this disease. This is the development of a new breath test for malaria, which will help with catching and managing the disease more quickly than ever before.
How does the breath test work?
Recent medical studies have discovered that malaria sufferers undergo changes to their respiratory system. That means that they leave a distinctive ‘breath print’ (like a unique fingerprint but with their breath) when they breathe in to a specially designed device. The device used in this test is designed to detect 6 different types of substance in a person’s breath. The key substances tested for are known as terpenes.
Terpenes are known to be present in the breath of malaria sufferers, and so the breath test enables medics to detect the presence of malaria in a person’s body before they have even started to show any symptoms.
Interestingly, certain terpenes are known to attract mosquitoes, something that makes them potentially dangerous when it comes to the spread of malaria. It may be the case that malaria sufferers have higher levels of these terpenes in their breath and thus attract more mosquitoes, which will then be able to pick up malaria from the infected and spread the disease even further afield. Terpenes are also present in plants and trees such as pine trees, for example, which are known to be very attractive to mosquitoes.
More work to be done
At the moment, the breathalyzer is at the prototype stage. Nevertheless, it has shown positive results when it was used on children. More studies need to be done in order to understand how the device might work with adults.
However, the results are looking good so far. This test can be used to detect malaria much sooner than currently: at the moment, outbreaks of malaria are usually detected not sooner than some of the community members start to demonstrate symptoms. As a result, the disease has usually already had a chance to spread substantially. This new breath test, on the other hand, will enable early quarantining of sufferers and will thus make it much easier to manage the spread of malaria.
Other potential applications of breath testing
Breath testing is a very versatile and promising type of medical test. It can be easily adapted to detect respiratory diseases. Moreover, medical experts say that this type of test might be even modified to detect a propensity to erectile problems, and thus indicate who is going to need ED pills such as Levitra 20 mg in the future.